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I've got a newbie question - what's the right way to clean this muddy drivetrain? I've heard that pressure washers are bad, and heard some say you must be careful cleaning the chain - but what's the right way to clean something this muddy, and to clean the cassette and crank area?

Sorry if this is a dumb question - I'm new to biking and just learning how to care for my bike. Thanks for any help.

Alligator Crocodilia Crocodile Rust Synthetic rubber


Bicycle tire Wheel Bicycle wheel rim Bicycle wheel Bicycle part
 

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I'd use a hose, if you have an adjustable nozzle with a gentle spray setting that would be ideal. A cleaning brush (old toothbrush works ok) for the nooks and crannies followed by a good flossing with a rag. Once it's clean and dry lube the chain, derailleur pivots, jockey wheels, etc. well and then wipe them dry.

Don't use a pressure washer.
 

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honestly, the drivetrain itself doesn't have much on it.

The dried mud is mostly on non-moving parts, anyway. crank arm. frame. rim/tire.

I'd probably knock a lot of that stuff off with a dry rag or towel even before pulling out the water. But generally speaking, when I do use water, I tend to prefer a bucket of soapy water with a sponge and a brush for the cleaning. the fine mist spray is good for rinsing, though.

and yes to ensuring the bike is dried well and lubed before being put away.
 

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A garden hose if you have it.

Spray the bike with gentle spray patterns. Do not pressure wash ever. Even your garden hose on high power and a jet stream should be considered pressure washing. Never blast the wheel bearings. Suspension pivots. Bottom Bracket. Top/bottom of the head tube.

For the chain I'd take a brush to it first. I like to use "grunge brush" -you can fine one at a local motorcycle shop perhaps.
Then hose it down with a stream/trickle of water. Spray degreaser on the chain and allow it to soak for as long as ncessary, 2 or 3 minutes perhaps. Rinse thoroughly.

Continue cleaning the bike, if nothing more than rinsing it off and wiping over the frame with your hand.

Take a spin to allow the water to push out of the rollers, and ride the brakes to dry the brakes. Once you are satisfied the chain is dry (maybe a few hours later), add chain lube.

Rinse off the derailleur while you're washing the bike. Clean the fork stanchions carefully, using a tooth brush or some soft bristly brush to keep the fork seals clean.
Wipe down the stanchions with a clean rag once bike is dry. Use caution not to rub dried dirt on the stanchions any more than is necessary to avoid scratching.

Pro tip: Don't forget to clean the bottom of your seat.
 

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I concur with brushing, but it can depend on the type of mud. Some clay types get really hard and difficult to get off, but most can simply be brushed off after letting it dry. A brush with somewhat stiff bristles works best (you're not restoring the Mona Lisa or anything). Water washes dirt into and lube out of bearings and pivots, so best if it can be avoided/minimized.
 

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It's just a bike. I put them through much worse while I'm riding them.

People get way too anal about babying their bikes IMHO. If you're not sitting there aiming your pressure washer spray directly at the few places on your bike where it might even remotely affect anything from a couple inches away, there is no issue.

Seriously, a chain is a disposable wear part that costs less than a 12 pack. You'd think the things were frigging heirloom pieces to some people. :lol:
 

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It's just a bike. I put them through much worse while I'm riding them.

People get way too anal about babying their bikes IMHO.
Who advocated babying it? I'm super lazy and rarely wash my bikes at all.

The only reason to wash it is to prevent that dirt from griding in the chain and gears and causing premature wear. If I'm going to bother washing it, I'm not going to do it wrong and cause additional problems for no reason.

A hose and brush would remove that mud in about 30 seconds. It would probably take less time than setting up the pressure washer anyway.
 

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A hose and brush would remove that mud in about 30 seconds, and would be less time than setting up the pressure washer.
Maybe a couple of minutes but otherwise I agree, ime a hose set on gentle spray will melt that mud right off and pressure washing just isn't necessary and can cause more harm than good.

I don't think that water driving dirt into bearings and pivots is anything to worry about on bikes these days with quality sealed bearings, the mud coating that bike was liquid when it went on so removing it with clean water won't hurt anything. Just be sure to lube well afterwards.
 

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I'm not going to do it wrong and cause additional problems for no reason.
Nothing 'wrong' about it at all, and no 'additional problems' either.

My pressure washer is usually ready to go, as we do the exact same thing with motos and ATVs all the time (where the chains actually cost more than lunch) and again, no issues. This is mainly one of those old wives tales that's been around since open bearings. As JB says, it's simply not something that merits a bunch of concern.
 

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I would just take a brush and brush off the cassette, chain, chainring, and derailleur. Spray some WD-40 on a rag and wipe down the chain...then lube and wipe the chain. My bike looked like that a few weeks ago. The caked on stuff pretty much just came off on its own:cornut:.
 

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I use a pressure washer but stay away from bearings with the narrow tip. If the BB area is really bad I'll use the wide angle tip which is not strong enough to get past the seals.

Go get a new sealed bearing. Set it on the ground and aim a pressure washer at it for a five count. Pop the seal off and notice there is no water in the bearing.
That's not really how a pressure washer fubars bearings. It's the water that gets past the seals into the frame and is stuck inside. That moisture will over time kill the bearings.
 

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With the unending rain we've been getting in North Texas, I've resolved to stop washing the bikes. I mean, every ride lays down a new coat of mud on them. And since I try to ride 5+ times a week, it's a useless battle. My new approach? Let the dry mud rattle off by itself on the next ride. :) The only exceptions, wiping down shocks and dropper, brush and spray the derailleur, run the chain through the cleaner box... and add a few drops of oil here and there. I do about every ten rides or so. Takes 10 minutes.... on to the next ride.

As for pressure washing... I've never done that to my "better", or newer bikes. But to be honest, I've blasted lesser bikes with the garden hose for years (we have 100+ lbs of water pressure at our faucets), and their bearings, seals, etc., have not had any more or less issues or wear than any that were not treated that way. Sometimes I wonder...
 

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...My new approach? Let the dry mud rattle off by itself on the next ride. ...
That pretty much works for me riding in loamy gritty leafy twiggy woods. Sometimes I'll brush it off once dried. In the past 4 years I've rinsed off my bike fewer than a half dozen times, mainly after coming home with a wet dirty bike and not wanting to bring it in in that state.

There were a few places/times I've ridden in the past where that wouldn't work.
 

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Last time I used a pressure washer to clean my bike was after a nasty muddy race. But when I was done, I serviced all the bearings. Much to no surprise, there was water in the hubs.

I normally use the Finish Line soap stuff, Usually knock the heavy stuff off with a soft brush, then spray the frame with Finish Line and wipe with clean rags. I stay on top of my drivetrain cleaning every few rides. Spray some Clean Streak on a rag, wipe the chain, floss the cassette with a rag, then re-lube.
 
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